Back-to-school stress & tips to manage it
Written by: Amanda Pierce
Read | 5 min
Summer Fun is done.
It's that time of year again. We begin to wonder where the summer went. The season of sunshine, beaches, festivals, BBQs, and the rush to eat your ice cream before it melts is coming to an end. At least for those of us in the Midwest anyway. Transitioning into the back-to-school mode can be challenging for both kids and parents.
I will admit, as a parent, I was not looking forward to my kids going back to school this year. Sometimes it seems like you get home, do homework, eat supper, then its baths and up to bed. Somedays go smoother than others, but it can also feel like a chore for all of us. Although I know my children’s education is very important, at times, I feel like I don’t get enough quality time with them.
According to an article from the New York Post, a study of 1,000 parents of school-aged children examined the emotional and physical impacts of the back-to-school season and found nearly half (47 percent) felt it to be even more stressful than the holidays. They continued to say, “Non-stop parents commit to three extracurricular activities for their kids in the typical school week. The average parent will also bake 89 cupcakes or other baked goods a year, and nearly one in 10 parents (7 percent) bake more than 250 per year – that’s more than 3,000 cupcakes before their child’s high school graduation!”. Yikes. That’s an exhausting statement!
Unfortunately, our kids have their own stressors to cope with. A 2007 American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) report suggests that for children and teens, too much work and too little play could backfire down the road. "Colleges are seeing a generation of students who appear to be manifesting increased signs of depression, anxiety, perfectionism and stress," the report says.” As parents, we know how important our children’s education is, but we don’t want to see them so stressed it affects their quality of life. So what can we do to help? An article from WebMD shares six ways that we can help ease the stress for our children.
1. Watch for signs of school-related stress.
The author, Katherine Kam, mentions that with teens some of the behaviors might include intentionally hurting themselves or expressing hopelessness. The signs for younger kids might be more subtle – things like headaches and stomachaches.
2. Teach kids time-management skills.
We know as adults how time-management skills can significantly reduce our stress. With the amount of homework kids are bringing home, time-management will not only help them now, but will be a valuable skill during their educational journey and into adulthood.
Here are some Stress-Relieving Homework Tips the author offers:
Teach your kids to use a planner to keep track of assignments. When they finish each assignment, kids can check them off for a feeling of accomplishment.
If kids struggle with tracking their homework, help them by following along with homework if their school posts assignments online.
Give your child a quiet place to study, free of distractions, away from TV and video games.
If possible, have kids study earlier rather than later in the day. The later it is for most students, the shorter their attention span.
Ask the school about resources if your child is struggling academically. Many schools now have homework clubs, math clubs, and tutoring programs after school.
3. Consider whether your child is over-scheduled.
This is a tough one. It’s not only athletics anymore. Kids are involved in so many extracurricular activities. Often for just enjoyment, but for some, it’s also about college. The price of college can be a bit intimidating. Scholarships are a great way to offset the cost. Not to mention, the list of things that are appealing on college applications and future resumes...
Kam made an interesting point when she said, “The challenge is to strike a balance between work and play. If your child feels overly stressed and overwhelmed, look for ways to cut back on school work and extra activities - though that's not easy for overachievers to hear.”
4. Encourage sleep, exercise - and family mealtimes
Here again, we can encourage behaviors that will not only help them now but in the future as well. Making time to take care of yourself should be a priority. However, self-care is easily neglected when we get insanely busy – but is crucial for our developing children.
I’ve always loved the idea of family meal-time, but I had not realized how it was also crucial for cushioning stress. The article suggests mealtimes as a way to connect with your child - "a minimum of 20 minutes sitting down together at least 4 to 5 times a week," she says. "Listen to your children, and communicate with them."
5. Watch the parental pressure.
As parents, we may not realize it, but we may be adding to our children's stress. They suggest that we really think about how we define success in our family, and continued to say "If the first question out of your mouth is, 'How did you do on the history test today?' then you're sending a message that you value grades more than anything else." (And worse: It could prompt academic cheating.)"
Here are some suggestions the author offers, "What's the best thing that happened to you today?" or "Did you learn anything exciting or new?"
6. Keep the fun in childhood and teen years.
Kam also states, “Kids often have too little unstructured time to relax and play, experts say - from a leisurely bike ride with friends to a Saturday hanging out at the beach.” The article also makes a point to say that school is almost like their job, and continues to say, “If you don't go and have fun and forget about it for a little while, you're just going to take it with you the next day. And are you going to perform as well?"
The rising cost of back to school.
Then you add the cost of it. It can be especially shocking for parents who have children in sports. Did you know in 2015 the National Retail Federation, published an article that stated (https://nrf.com/media/press-releases/after-splurging-2014-families-trim-back-school-spending-2015) back to school spending had grown 42% over the last ten years, despite the massive recession that occurred during that decade? This year the NRF reported that back-to-college shoppers are contributing the biggest share of that shopping this year, spending about $250 more than the average K-12 shopper for a total of nearly $55 billion.
We can’t forget how much it cost the schools to educate our children. Funding always seems to be a topic of discussion with schools. At Forreston State Bank we believe in supporting our community through our educational systems. A significant amount of what we donate each year goes to our local schools – including Highland Community College. We have also developed programs like our Show your School Spirit Donation Program. All you have to do is open a Forreston State Bank Rewards, Secure, or Student checking account along with the Show Your Spirit Debit Card, and we will donate $25 to the participating school of your choice. Choose from Forreston, Freeport, Pearl City, Aquin, Lena, Dakota, or Tri-County Christian.. Already have a Forreston State Bank MasterCard debit card? No problem. Exchange it for a new card, and we will donate $5 to your Spirit Card school. What a fun and rewarding way to show your school spirit!
Although it’s difficult to eliminate the back-to-school stress completely, we may be able to combat some of it with the rewarding feeling of giving back.